DUBAI: February 21, 2017. As the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF declare a famine in South Sudan that threatens the lives of 100,000 people, the International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai is to triple in size in response to increased demand from leading UN agencies and NGOs.
The move follows the approval by the Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to expand warehousing facilities at IHC by 27,000 sq. mt. in support of the Red Crescent, UNHCR, ICRC and the WFP.
With intensifying conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nigeria and other trouble spots that have led to the mass displacement of over 65 million people worldwide, the expansion will help IHC members better pre-position stocks of food, shelter and medicine.
Founded in 2003, the IHC is the world's largest humanitarian logistics hub currently used by nine UN agencies, including the WFP, and nearly 50 NGOs and businesses working in the aid sector.
IHC provides its members with cold storage for perishables and medical supplies; an office complex; facilities management; Customs clearance; and registration for humanitarian organizations and commercial companies.
Sheikh Mohammed has also announced the appointment of former U.N. veteran logistician Giuseppe Saba as the new IHC CEO.
IHC chairperson HH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein commented: "There is no one in the global aid community with a stronger background in logistics than Giuseppe Saba. We are so fortunate to have him. [He] played an instrumental role in the founding of the United Nation's system of Humanitarian Response Depots, which HH Sheikh Mohammed has so generously supported."
According to UNICEF, the FAO and WFP, despite a substantial response by the aid community, food insecurity in South Sudan has deteriorated to unprecedented levels "owing to protracted violence, insecurity, displacement and a protection crisis that has prevented adequate humanitarian access and aid delivery".
In a joint statement UNICEF head Anthony Lake, WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin, and FAO director general Jose Graziano Da Silva have warned that almost five million South Sudanese are facing severe food insecurity and the situation is expected to get worse through the lean season that begins in July 2017.
"This famine is man-made. WFP and the entire humanitarian community have been trying with all our might to avoid this catastrophe, mounting a humanitarian response of a scale that quite frankly would have seemed impossible three years ago," said WFP country director Joyce Luma. "But we have also warned that there is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security, both for relief workers and the crisis-affected people they serve," she added.
Meanwhile on February 20, the WFP announced it had received €8 million from European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), to provide food and nutritional assistance to refugees and continue operating the UN Humanitarian Air Service in Sudan.
"The humanitarian needs in Sudan are staggering. Some 5.8 million people, or 15 percent of the population, is in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of conflict, malnutrition, climate hazards or displacement," declared Sophie Battas, head of the ECHO office in Sudan.
Since 2012 the EU has contributed over US$140 million in humanitarian aid to WFP operations throughout the region.